The Wild West
The Lords Science and Technology Committee have apparently concluded the ‘net is a “wild west”, where people cannot be expected to look after themselves and need to be protected.
The first reports started saying consumers should be able to demand compensation from ISPs if they were defrauded online. I wonder how much that would add to the cost of getting online, from whatever ISPs survive and can get insured against it? And whether any of them might offer discounts to non-windoze users. Maybe business connections could end up cheaper than home-user ones.
A little later, the report had morphed a little, and they interviewed committee chairman Lord Broers on the radio. He seemed more sane than the original journalist, and spoke of liability falling on ISPs of attackers (subject of course to jurisdiction). Which is almost the eminently sensible position of legislating for ISPs to cut off infected users so they can’t spread further damage.
Also mentioned: legal liability for damage due to defective hardware or software. Hey, that’s what we should have had ten years ago, to make Microsoft responsible for deliberately breaking MIME (RFCs 1341 and 1521, of 1992 and 1993 respectively) and thus unleashing a tidal wave of email viruses while rendering simple and easy filtering ineffective.
In today’s market, MS is still going to bear the biggest liability for broken software (if they can’t out-lawyer the relevant authorities), but it could in principle hit much harder at those without their financial resources. That includes open source.